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What is the Law on Extortion in Florida and What are the Punishments for it?

Extortion or blackmail is described as a crime where one person threatens another in order to get a material gain from them, such as their property to their wealth. Under Florida's State Statute 836. 05, threatening to extort or blackmailing someone is a process by which an individual sends another person a verbal or written message to falsely accuse the latter of a crime, injure them in some way, or expose their secret if their demands are not met. In addition to this, the threat must be severe enough to counteract the free will of the person concerned.

Cases of extortion include the following instances:

  • When someone is falsely accusing another person of a crime.
  • When an individual is threatening to attack the property or the reputation of another person or maybe threatening to harm them in some way.
  • When an individual is threatening to disgrace the other person socially or publicly if their demands are not met.
  • When an individual threatens to expose the secret of another person, in order to bring them shame and humiliation.
  • When an individual is threatening to expose the shortcomings of the person either publicly or socially, whether it is a physical, mental, or emotional one.
Florida Extortion Law

In addition to this, it can only be counted as a case of extortion when the blackmailer wants a sort of compensation in order to not disclose the personal details of the individual concerned. This compensation could be anything from a monetary or an otherwise material advantage, or to make a person either does the blackmailer's bidding or refrain from doing something that they should do.

Intent to Gain

When in a court of law for a case relating to extortion, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a doubt, that the intention of the blackmailer was to gain from the entire instance, whether it was to gain some monetary advantage, receive property of the person, or had enabled the person to act against their direct wishes.

In addition to this, the state of Florida will not require a physical action being carried out in order to treat the case as extortion Simply having evidence that a person was threatened by another is more than enough proof for the court.

 Florida Extortion Law

Actual Malice

In a case of extortion, in addition to the intent to gain some monetary advantage, it will also have to be proven that the blackmailer worked with an intention of ill will, hatred, evil intent, or malice towards the individual concerned.

Extortion by Public Officials

In a normal scenario, the state of Florida does not require actual proof of the crime being completed to fruition in order to charge a person with extortion. However, this is not the case with public officers. In their case, there has to be proof that the official actually took money from an individual or benefited monetarily in some other way, including taking away property. Public officers include the following people:

  • Police or peace officers
  • Lawyers who have been issued a license from Florida
  • Court Clerks
  • Other Public and State officials

Punishment for Extortion

Extortion is a Second Degree Felony in the state of Florida and is also assigned to a Level 6 Offense severity ranking under the Criminal Punishment Code of Florida. Depending on the severity of the extortion, the people involved, and the material gain accrued, a judge may punish the blackmailer with a maximum of 15 years of prison or a maximum 15 years of probation time. The minimum punishment for a case of extortion is $10,000 in fines.

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